Leaping into the Lion’s Den

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So there we were, staring into predators’ eyes, on their turf, the intruders.  A fierce roar… OMG…. what was I thinking…. facing a lion.  I had not started the day with this plan.  When did things go so wrong?

tan1Sunday began with a couple of hours in at work whilst the darling daughter amazed at the Chocolate Factory I work in.  She didnt seem too disappointed, although I knew she has always pictured WiIly Wonka’s fantabulous abode as my place of work – IF ONLY, an Oompa Loompa or 2 to help would be a fine thing!  After we finished we headed off to lunch then excitedly made our way to the afternoon’s entertainment – Stardust Circus.  I have to admit, Bethie Boop was the excited one. I was a little anxious. Even though my grandmother had toured for over a decade as a circus performer with Bertam Mills Circus in the UK, I was no longer a fan.nan and grandad At 19, I had been horrifed to see how circus animals were kept as a local circus.  I am not a bleeding heart animal activist, but animals need space and the resources to exhibit some natural attributes.  Hobbled camels and elephants had torn apart my family allegiances.

Those days are long gone and better understanding of animals needs, associated Codes Of Practice and regualr RSPCA audits means circus animals have a much improved life.  After 2 years of pleading from Ms Bethie Boop, I relented from my ban and we made the booking.

ringMaster

The entertainment was SUPERB. Naughty but hilarious clowns, aerial acts (youngest was 7!!!!) which had our hearts in our throats, ponies, lions, goats, pigs, moneys and dogs.  Bethie Boop walked away saying her stomach hurt from laughing so much. A great sign.  Then I saw another great sign, and that leads back to the jeopardy that started this blog….

So there we were…. face to face with no safety from a vicious killer. To have put us here deliberately! I am begining to think it wasnt such a great idea.  The king of the jungle eyed me (well, it was the Queen actually, in fact, more like a princess), but still, the fangs were real.

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We were cornered. She pounced, jaws agape, glistening teeth grazed my arm….  whilst her sister came at us from the side – a coordinated attack. A sandpapery tongue started licking.  AWWWWWWWWWESOMMMMMMME.   2 overgrown kittens were bouncing around us, playing and cuddling, and just generally acting very cute as only babies of furry species can.

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Ms Bethie Boop was utterly under their spell and I suspect was planning how to surreptiously sneak one if not both out in my handbag. So warm, so endering, so soul charging!  A dream come true – tick that off the old bucket list! We have cuddled lions! Life is awesome today.

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Kick Start a Child’s Creative Dream….

Recyclable SHoes prototype

It’s been a while – life got in the way of blogging. All for the good though! Ms 6 year old Bethie Boop began CREATING a few months ago and is now blooming into an avid inventor. I am doing my best to nurture her love of designing new stuff.

Which brings me to this blog…. Bethie Boop is an avid recycler and general Earth lover, so many of her little projects have focussed on this aspect. Last week she came up with something so very cool I thought we should share it with the world.  The idea is in its infancy, there is much to be discovered, but her idea is amazing.  Recyclable fashion shoes.

Photo original

Fashion comes and goes – very quickly in some cases (which is great when we consider jeans thongs…) but not so good for the environment. So many shoes discarded in the footwear graveyard. None of which breakdown, none of which are re-purposed. Foot-fashion fodder filling up our world with style moments we no longer think are so cool.

Beth wants to make the world a stylin’ place without cloggin up nature’s arteries, so came up with the Tatally Recyclable Shoe – and WHAT an idea. So here we are – playing with tape and paper and veneers. But we need help – a lot of help. So we started a KickStarter account and decided to GO FOR IT.

Do you want to be part of fashion feet with a conscience?, then come along for the ride. The KickStarter page is HERE: The-totally-recyclable-shoe page.

Why dont you come visit and join our journey.

I, Toldyah.

Here’s my Che(e)rry Pie, cool drink of water, such a sweet surprise!

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Festive Cherry Tart as requested!

This is my absolutely favourite dessert – tweaked slightly for Xmas with cherries and coconut.  Anyone with a cherry ripe addiction (my hand is up) can add a layer of melted choc to the pressed base for a taste of heaven.

 

INGREDIENTS

200g packet Marie biscuits crushed or ready made biscuit crumbs

50g dessciated coconut- finely chopped

6 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 cups milk

4 Tbsp custard powder

3 Tbsp sugar

400ml Whipped Cream

500g punnet cherries

250g jam – NOT one with fruit pieces. I use raspberry jam with seeds for a 3D look.

 

CUSTARD CREME

Put milk on to boil then reduce to simmer.

Mix together custard powder, sugar and 2 tbsp milk to make the custard mix.

Beware – the custard is a strong mix and will set very quickly, so once you add the custard mix to the boiling milk you need to whisk like you have never whisked before – get that elbow cranking!20141206_160828

Once thickened, remove from heat and continue to whisk for a few minutes, then pour into a plastic bowl and cover with cling film. Place in fridge and whilst every 10 mins for 30 mins.

Once cold, add whipped cream and whip in mixer or whisk by hand until thick and creamy.

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CRUMB LAYER

Melt the butter and add biscuit crumbs and coconut.  Dont add too much butter – you dont want a sludgy mess as it will set rock hard and be like a slab of fat to eat rather than crumble in your mouth.

Press into a springform or tart pan.  This is important – work from the centre out with finger tips or back of a spoon. Ensure you get a lip of 3-4 cm.  Press well into corner and dont let it get too thick here – nothing worse than chewing on a biscuit nugget! Push the crumbs down on the lip so you have a 3-5mm thick layer.

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Put in fridge for 30 mins.

 

ASSEMBLY

Layer custard creme into biscuit base and smooth – dont go over the lip!!!!

Return to fridge for 30 mins or skip and go straight to next stage if you are impatient (who isnt when this is the dessert on offer!)

Wash and dry cherries – pit if you wish (I find they bleed too much into custard and dont look as pretty, so leave them whole). Place on top of custard – do not push into the creme.

Place jam in a microwave proof ceramic container and heat until melted through (do not boil or it will set hard).

Gently brush the jam over all cherries. Be generous!

20141206_174548Allow to set in fridge for 30 mins.

Just before serving sprinkle with a little icing sugar or coconut and chocolate holly (grab a plastic holly and coat underside in melted chocolate, chill, once set peel off) for a festive touch.READY SET EATIf this is an adults only dessert you can add a liqueur to the custard creme – frangelico is a fave of mine.

In other news operation Christmas tree is scheduled for this weekend. Photos soon!

I, Toldyah

 

We are at Yuletide Defcon 4 People – man the festive hatches!

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November 30…. tomorrow is officially Christmas season in my household – and for me that means tinsel, tinsel and more tinsel – you can NEVER have too much tinsel!

I have to admit upfront – I am a Christmas tragic… I take the festive season very seriously. I prepare for December 25th like Doomsday Preppers plan for the end of the world (luckily I get my D-day every year, which is so much more fun for perfecting THE PLAN).

The Plan – the method for making christmas fabulous. It includes the shopping schedule, the present buying, hiding and wrapping processes, the blueprint for Christmas Tree fabulousness, the master plan for lighting inside and outside the house, and so much more. How to build a chimney out of an average household laminate bookcase, the perfect santa cookie dough and the secret recipe for reindeer food.

xmas cooking Yes, I am that Christmas weirdo…. I should have been Mrs Santa Claus.  I watch The Santa Clause and am jealous! I have always been the Christmas girl…. at school, at home, I built my first homemade chimney at 11.  I refined the process over the years and now you may find it difficult to tell whether it is real or smoke and mirrors.  And tree decorating……. I take that one so seriously that my family do not dare touch a bauble…. they KNOW better.

xmas treeThis year my daughter is almost 6 and wanting to have a bit of a say in Christmas.  That’s a problem for me (yes, its my problem but not one I am willing to fix).  I thought long and hard about how to compromise – the result – Beth has a tree of her own. She has decorated it as she sees fit, and I have studiously butted out of the process, forcing opinions down along with the urge to tweek this or that.  Proudly – I managed to touch nothing and her tree is all her own.  I was amazed at the outcome – perhaps my Christmas decorating inclinations are a genetic disposition (there’s a PhD paper in there for someone!)  Back to the tree – she chose a white optic fibre tree and rainbow trims…. not traditional choices which played havoc with my yuletide sensibilities (my trees are red white green and gold – AND NOTHING ELSE), but they work for her.  Great effort for a 5-year-old.

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Come tomorrow the advent calendars are activated Ours is the Smiggle one this year – 5-year-old girls by law must love Smiggle!), the pudding soak with Frangelico steps up to the next level, and the decorating process commences.  I will come back and write some more each time I extricate myself from a roll of tinsel or LED lights.  If you have any particular recipes or instructables you would like me to cover just let me know!

 

I, Toldyah.

 

Walking with secrets….. SHHHHH!

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I am so excited…. I mean really, really hyper-excited, bursting at the seams in fact.

You see – I have a secret. One that will blow my daughter’s mind and cause a significant amount of screaming “Mummy you are the best ever” – which of course was my aim.

I discovered late last week that Walking with Dinosaurs Arena Spectacular is coming back to Australia……

Bethie’s greatest obsession, made real, her paleontologist dreams come true.  Better even than digging up fossilised dino poop or thundereggs…. (read here for more on that topic).

dino walkI immediately began to plan my assault on the Visa card presale: seating plans, closeness factor for a T-rex stare down, timing for credit card transfers, internet failure preparedness through media back ups (phone, ipad etc). It was war on every other parent of a dino obsessed child.  I needed those tickets…. they had to be mine.

Since the junior dino admirer has a birthday in January and the show is in March, we decided it was a perfect birthday present.  And what birthday gift is complete without those you love and obsess over turning up for the party…. so we added a meet and greet to the package… we don’t know whom will grace us with their scary over-sized presence, but it is sure to be a moment to remember.

BrachiosaurusSo there I was, visa card, seating plan, back up devices at the ready….tick tick tick…. roll on midday.  And then, just as I lift my finger to refresh the Ticketek page for the 117th time… the work phone rings.   Nooooooo. I wont answer. Wait, dammit, it’s the CEO…… I have to answer.  Tick tick tick…. 30 seconds to midday and my daughter’s nirvana. Ring ring, what to do….  WHAT TO DO… ok, 22 seconds to go – refresh page and answer phone…. CLICK- REFRESH. Hello? Oh, wrong person, sorry. I wanted Mario!  Bye then, Mr CEO. Slam down phone.  7 seconds to go, 2 breaths, refresh page, and…. GO TO WAR!!!!!!!!!

The race is on….. quick – put in code word. Bugger – what was code word, oh yeah, VISA lol. Breathe – dont panic. Enter password to login – WHAT THE – I already did this…. enter password, get to offer page. OH NO, it’s different to when I was practicing, where do I choose meet and greet, wait, what date am I choosing – ah – there it is. Click, click, click, add Visa card number. Waiting…. and COMPUTER SAYS NO…..

computer-says-noWHATTTTTTTTTT – it is NOT the wrong number, oh wait – that was the old number put in automatically by Ticketek, the old card number before delightful scammers ripped off my deets from a retailer.  Put in new one….funds declined………. NO NO NO…… they are in there…….. oh wait – got the expiry date wrong.  Breathe, breathe.  Type, Click and DONE!!!!!!!! I feel like there should be a fanfare as the page reloads confirming my purchase.

Perfect tickets – best I ever managed to get.

Now – how do I not tell her for 58 days?????????  Thank goodness she can’t read well enough for the blog yet!

Do you have a lil one (or big one) whom would love a chance to see these multi million year old goliaths in action?  Visa pre-sale is over but the tickets are on sale at Ticketek from Friday this week.  Grab some and come say hi – we will be the ones down the front holding back a 6-year-old from diving into the jurassic mosh pit!

Time to pull out the Walking With Dinosaurs DVDs and start preparing for the journey back in time.

I, Toldyah

Here come the Dragons!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Be still our beating hearts – the time is nigh!  THE DRAGONS COME!  They are so very close.  They will soon be ours. Are you ready dragon admirers?

Of course, dragon owning requires great responsibility. Before I can divulge more – I need to confirm –  have you visited your local Viking Training Academy?  Have you learnt the fine arts and secret moves to take on any kind of dragon and convert them into a favourite Viking friend?  We brushed up our skills on Sunday as a special dragon training camp that was held at a top-secret location (because you just never know where Mildew and his bad-tempered attempts at sabotage might pop up).

beth and HTTYD

Astrid 2.0 (otherwise known as dear daughter Beth) found the training to be an excellent opportunity to best a Gronckle and swap dragon yarns with the illustrious Gobber.  She was delighted to be certified as a Dragon Rider, and the past 3 days have been a nervous wait filled with anticipation for the best day of the year: November 12 – DRAGONS’ DAY.

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Astrid 2.0 loves Dragons. She especially loves viking dragons. She super especially loves Toothless, Stormfly, Cloudjumper and Hookfang.  In fact, the whole How to Train Your Dragon 1 and 2 crew is on her christmas card list.  It is How to Train Your Dragon 2 we are celebrating, because, TODAY, Dragons’ Day, the DVD is released, and that means we get to take the whole new expanded team home with us, to love and nurture, dream about and interact with whenever we want.

IMG_5055One aspect has me a little worried.  Astrid 2.0 seems to adore Valka more than any mother wants a child adoring an alternate mother figure. I have a feeling that were Valka to land in our front yard on Cloudjumper and ask to adopt her that I wouldn’t even get a goodbye!  Dragons – the ultimate mummy accessory around it seems.valka-cloudjumper-gallery

For those that have yet to see  How To Train Your Dragon 2, adults and kids alike will love it (trust me – I have seen it 4 times at the cinema and am quite anticipating our pre-order turning up today). Beware – for the littlies, there is a scene of sadness, with the passing of a character from the first movie.  I was taken aback the first time I saw it – not expecting a death, and Astrid 2.0, whom is 5, cried with true viking spirit. But there was context and made the finale a true celebration of success and community spirit, so she saw it for what it was – real life is not sanitised after all!   The sequel is a visual feast, with many new characters and wonderous locations, a treasure trove of fabulous new dragons, and we get to meet the greatest of all – the Bewilderbeast.

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Then of course, there is Valka, the ultimate mother-hero.  I absolutely love how the HTTYD storylines have strong, independent females: Astrid, Ruffnut, Valka.  They send out fabulous messages to all girls that they can be brave and fearless and still be female, respected and loved.  In fact, the whole gang is cool, slightly naughty and rebellious:  I love that the viking kids are growing up and continuing to solve their own problems as a team.  Perfect subliminal teachings for kids whilst they soak up the entertainment with a side dish of popcorn.

httyd team

Well – I wont spoil the story, now that the Dragons have returned, you can grab a copy and become immersed for yourself.  And then we can all start annoying Dreamworks for HTTYD3 – perhaps I can get a small cameo and win back my daughter!

Happy dragon training to all!

I, Toldyah.

This is an unpaid blog post celebrating a love my daughter and I share – dragons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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